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Cuba Detains Nixon's Nephew Over Vesco Ties : Interview: Donald Nixon of Tustin says officials have accused him of being involved in the drug trade with the fugitive financier.

June 26, 1995|SARAH KLEIN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Donald Nixon, nephew of the late President Richard Nixon, is being detained in Cuba by officials who believe he is involved in the international drug trade with fugitive financier Robert L. Vesco, Nixon said Sunday.

Officials "told me that I was money laundering, that I was in the international drug trade, and that I was a member of the CIA," Nixon, 49, told ABC News. He was apparently speaking from Vesco's home in Cuba, where he is believed to be under house arrest.

The Tustin man said he was at Vesco's home May 31 when Cuban government agents arrived to arrest the financier. "As I came downstairs, they took Vesco away," Nixon said in the interview. "I haven't seen him since. That was three weeks ago."

Vesco fled the United States in the early 1970s after the Securities and Exchange Commission charged that he diverted more than $220 million from four mutual funds. He also is under indictment for an illegal $200,000 contribution to President Nixon's reelection campaign.

Vesco also faces drug conspiracy charges stemming from a 1989 indictment in Florida.

Cuban officials arrested Vesco on suspicion of being a foreign agent. Cuban President Fidel Castro has said he would not comply with an extradition request because it would make Vesco a political pawn.

Donald Nixon's friendship with Vesco dates to the early 1970s, when he served as Vesco's aide. When Vesco fled to Costa Rica in 1972, Nixon reportedly followed. Nixon's wife, Helene, and two sons live in Tustin. Neighbors say they see Nixon there only occasionally.

Nixon and Vesco were subjects of a 1975 Detroit federal grand jury investigation into heroin smuggling. The results of that inquiry are not known.

Nixon told ABC that he went to Cuba seeking Vesco's help to manufacture an anti-AIDS drug that has not been approved in the United States. They started a venture known as the Tx project with partners in Colombia, Mexico, Switzerland and Italy, he said.

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